The wind blew waves across the deep green fields. Full heads of ripe grass bent over almost ready to release their seeds. The dripping jaws of the sheep tore at the green flesh of the low vegetation, as they wagged their stub tails.
Against the tree line of the forest, a shadow grew. The wolf kept its head low, hiding his yellow eyes as he came closer. His form was that of smoke extending from the shadows, rather than of flesh and blood. Soon he was joined by others, and together they surrounded the sheep. A few bleats rang out as several sheep shed their skin revealing the bodies of more wolves forming from the shadows.
The predators leaped, tearing the bodies of sheep to pieces while they were still alive. Some of the sheep in the herd opened wide mouths, revealing fangs like those of the shadow wolves, with the same glowing yellow eyes, and they joined in the carnage.
I tried to call out, but my voice was silent.
A few sheep bleated in terror, trying to warn their flock mates, but they were mostly ignored. Some closed their eyes and turned away. But most of the sheep continued tearing at the grass until their own flesh was torn in half by the ghostly jaws.
I bolted upright in bed, sweating, terrified by the dream that was already fading.
My wife lay beside me, her hourglass shape accented by the homemade quilt.
I grabbed my smartphone. The glowing numbers read 6:15 AM, only a few minutes before my alarm was set to go off.
“Nightmare again?” My wife’s gentle voice groaned over the mountains and valleys of the sheets and blanket.
“Yeah,” I answered, laying back down and turning to wrap my left arm around her from behind.
The wide curls of her brown afro rested against my forehead.
She turned, adjusting her body to face me. Her green eyes and freckles stood out against her smooth skin, the color of a ripe field of wheat.
“I want to stay home with you.” I whispered.
She smiled, her nose barely an inch from mine. “I will be okay.”
I tried to object, but she held a finger up to my lips. “It’s your first Sunday with the new flock. You’ve been dreaming of this for so long. Go! Doctor Goodman will be over soon.”
I leaned closer and kissed her full lips. Her green eyes followed me as I rose from the bed.
The drive through the midwestern landscape was mostly uneventful. Google Maps connected to the interface of my SUV. Clouds rose in the distance, a storm on the horizon. It looked like a rainstorm was approaching, but I also knew that I had to be careful during tornado season.
I drove over the small wooden bridge in the forest and just as I finished crossing, an orange cat leaped from the trees into the road.
I stomped on the breaks and swerved. The front of the vehicle slammed into a ditch, with the airbags punching into my face and sides.
I must have passed out for only a moment. When I came to, my head and sides were throbbing. I looked in the mirrors. Because of the angle of the crash, the back tires were elevated above the grass, and the nose of the car pressed into the soft earth. There was no way I was going to be able to back out of this ditch.
I grabbed my phone, spiral notebook, and Bible from the floor of the passenger seat and pushed the driver-side door open.
My black dress shoes sank into the mud as I climbed out of the shallow ditch.
The cracked phone screen read “no signal.”
I bit my lip to keep from cursing.
Moments later, a man showed up in a rusty white pickup truck.
“Need help there, sir?” The man asked in a distinct accent that was hard to place.
I looked at the SUV, face down in the ditch with its dirt-covered back wheels still in the air. As much as I wanted to be an independent man and take care of things myself, there was nothing I could do about it on my own.
I agreed to let the man pull the car out and take it to the local garage.
“Do you need a ride into town?” He asked.
“No, I’m on my way to Calvary Hill Church. I’m the new pastor there. I know that I am close, but I am not exactly sure how to get there from here and my GPS isn’t getting any signal. Can you give me directions?”
He turned his balding head and pointed back the way he came.
“Just around that corner and about a mile up the road. Can’t miss it.”
“Thanks!” I said, shaking the dizziness from my head.
I began walking the rest of the distance. As the path emerged from the forest, something seemed different. The world seemed to have a little less color to it, as if someone had adjusted the color balance on a TV. It wasn’t black and white, but it was just a little bit off. Less vibrant. By this point the sky was covered in gray clouds, so I took that to be the reason.
I checked my phone again, hoping to text my wife. Still no reception.
The church sat alone atop a small hill.
I looked around, thinking the landscape looked different somehow, but I could not quite place how.
As soon as I came to the door, I was greeted by Elder Lewis. Elder Lewis was a tall African American man in a full suit with a trim haircut that was more white than black in his older age. He was also one of the main leaders to speak with me during the video interview.
I grinned from ear to ear, reaching out my hand. “It’s good to finally meet you in person sir.”
Elder Lewis stared at my hand, eyes wide, as if I’d offered him something foul, not shaking it.
“Pastor! You made it!” A voice shouted from inside the church.
A heavyset man with a brown mustache whom I recognized as Deacon Clark hopped through the front door, and greeted me, wrapping an arm around my shoulder and leading me inside.
“Glad you are alright; we were getting a little worried.”
“Yeah, I’m okay.” I responded. “Just a little bit of car trouble.”
“Happens to the best of us. I had a cup of coffee brought to your office just the way you like it, three tablespoons of heavy cream, and two sugars. And I know you aren’t big on having a heavy breakfast, but I had the kitchen bake a few of our world-famous croissants. They will send one to your office here shortly.”
I was taken aback by his kindness and his servant’s heart, along with that of the church members who came in early on a Sunday morning to serve in the kitchen.
“Thank you again sir,” I said, a smile growing on my face. “I’m humbled.”
“Now no need to thank me, you just focus on doing what you need to do.”
I mentioned the car trouble. He quickly told me not to worry about it, that he would let my wife know, that the garage owner was a friend of his, and that he would personally see to it that everything was taken care of.
As he led me down the carpeted hall, I wondered if I should express condolences for the loss his church had experienced, but I decided now was not the right time.
Pastor Steven’s office was exactly what I might have expected. An old wooden desk sat a few feet away from the wall, with the leather chair behind it. Antique bookshelves lined the walls, filled with various texts, some in other languages. The denomination officials had informed, or rather warned me that Pastor Steven was old school when they assigned the position to me, but I was surprised that there wasn’t even a computer at his desk.
I ran my hand across the wooden surface, taking it in. I wanted to thank him for his office, but how does one thank a man for what he’s left behind? I never met him, but here I was taking his place, when his body had barely even had time to cool.
The coffee was thick and rich, almost like hot chocolate, with that bold earthy flavor of fresh coffee beans.
I pulled out a red handkerchief and tried in vain to wipe what was left of the caked-on dirt off my shoes. As I read through my sermon notes, adding a few final touches, a young woman walked in. Looking up, I saw a girl who was maybe fourteen in a conservative brown dress and vibrant red hair.
She placed the croissant in front of me.
“Thank you!” I said right as she was turning to leave.
I introduced myself, but she just looked at me.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
She turned back, looking at me with an uncertain expression. “My… my name’s Amelia sir.”
Clearly, the girl was nervous. During my time as a youth pastor, I’d seen this sort of thing, especially with teenagers.
I gave her a friendly smile. “Well Amelia, it’s very nice to meet you.”
She glanced towards the door, shaking slightly. “Do you need anything… else sir?”
I shook my head. “No, I’m all set. Thanks for the coffee and pastry.”
She turned, bowed slightly, and quickly left the room.
I made a mental note to be sure to meet the girl’s family. Something about the way she acted seemed off, and as a pastor, I wanted to make sure everything was okay. But if pushed too hard, people tended to withdraw.
I shook hands in the foyer with the families as they arrived. The men dressed in some of the sharpest suits I had ever seen, and the women wore dresses that looked like something out of a Hollywood movie, classy yet very modern. Perhaps fashion-forward would have been a fitting term.
One woman wore an emerald-green dress with feathers in her blonde hair to match. A man in a Navy-blue sports jacket, with silver edges, and the silver chain of a pocket-watch to match, leaned in and whispered something in her ear. She smiled and kissed his chestnut stubble. Everyone was extremely kind and well-mannered.
The church sang a few contemporary, yet very intelligent songs from a projector, none of which I was familiar with. They spoke of God’s sovereignty, and man’s place both as the image of God, but also as a creation that could demand nothing from its Creator. Next, Deacon Clark officially introduced me to the congregation, reading part of my bio, and then applauded with the congregation as I took the podium.
“Well ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to be here.” The faces of the handsome families, men, women, and well-behaved children beamed as I greeted them.
“Let’s open up in a word of prayer.”
The heads all bowed in unison, and I prayed. Heads then lifted once again.
“Our sermon for today is entitled ‘Unity Within the Church.’ As you are all aware, this is an election year, and in this day and age, people are very passionate about politics. Some of you here today might be Republicans, while others might be Democrats. But above all of that, I want you to realize that our citizenship is not first in this world, not first in a nation of men, but first in the Kingdom of God!”
I preached the message urging the congregation to love one another and to put aside petty differences about politics that really didn’t matter, and to instead focus on the Gospel, and to seek to love one another despite political differences. It didn’t matter what political party you supported, as long as you were a believer in Christ! Political preferences might have their place, but what was more important was that we had unity in Christ.
I talked about churches that had split over petty differences, such as wearing hats or not wearing hats in church, and how in the early church there was controversy over side-issues such as food and circumcision.
Heads nodded, and both men and women took notes, along with boys and girls. This congregation had taught their kids well. Some faces looked skeptical, but overall, they received the message with approval.
After the message, as I collected my notes, there was a closing worship song. It spoke of angels who could brush away the armies of the Earth, but who dared not to raise a finger against the generals of Heaven, or its Divine King.
Several congregants came up to me after the service.
“Pastor, I wanted to say that I really appreciated your sermon today. It … spoke to me.” One man said.
The dozen-or-so men and women, standing in a circle, all nodded. One woman who was holding the hand of a blonde little girl leaned over to her daughter to hear the little girl whisper, and they both quietly walked away.
I smiled. “I’m glad I could be the LORD’s humble servant today.”
“It was bold of you to preach on such a tough and contentious subject during your first sermon.” Another man said in a deep voice.
I smiled. “It is my goal to always be a servant of Christ, and not to please man. As it says in Galatians one ten ‘For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.’”
They all looked impressed and nodded, exchanging looks with one another.
“That’s an interesting rendering pastor.” One woman said. She wore a deep blue dress with ivory-colored buttons.
“Thank you. It’s from the ESV translation, one of my personal favorites.”
She tilted her head. “I’ve never heard of that one.” she admitted.
Her comment did not phase me. Even though ESV was a popular translation, not everyone could be familiar with everything, and most churches tended to prefer one translation over another.
“English Standard Version. It gets very close to the original languages. And I also recommend the NASB, New American Standard Bible.”
She blinked a couple of times, said “Okay” and nodded her head.
Another man then spoke up, hesitation in his voice. “Pastor, there were a few points in your sermon where I was confused?”
“Yeah, go ahead and ask.” I urged, nodding, and opening my palm towards him in invitation.
“Well, you said at one point … now perhaps I misheard… but you seemed to say that the current president in the White House is a Republican.”
“Yes, that’s correct.” I said, confused about why there was confusion.
Now the perplexion on the group of faces grew deeper.
The woman in the blue dress furrowed her eyebrows. “Did you mean to say that he secretly works for the Republicans or…?”
All eyes in the small crowd watched me with intrigue.
“No, he’s a Republican. He may have been late to the game in that party, but he was the Republican Party nominee and won the election.”
Now the looks of confusion grew even deeper.
Another man spoke up. “Sir, I don’t mean to argue, but President Anderson is hardly a Republican.”
My heart skipped a beat. Something was not right. There was no “President Anderson,” but rather than regarding this man as being out-of-touch, everyone was staring at me with intense bewilderment.
The man then added, “I mean, there have been times where presidents have been accused of working for the Republican Party, but there’s never been a Republican president nor any openly Abolitionist president in the history of our great land.”
Fear rose in my chest. Were these people crazy? Did I walk into some kind of small-town cult? And did they plan to hurt me?
“A…Abolitionist president?” I asked.
He looked to another man with a white beard and round copper glasses.
The man with the white beard answered. “The Republican Party was founded in 1854 to do away with slavery, while the Democrats continued to fight for a man’s right to own property. Their candidate for this year’s election is Senator Lincoln.”
“Lincoln?” I asked, recalling my high school history classes. “As in Abraham Lincoln?”
He nodded, solemnly. “Senator Tom Lincoln is the direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln who almost became the first Republican President. Some say had Abraham Lincoln been elected, he might have tried to take slaves away from Americans by force, and perhaps destroyed the country with a bloody civil war. But thankfully the Democrat, Breckinridge narrowly won the election and saved our great nation from that fate. Doubtful if we’d even have a country right now if Abraham Lincoln had won.”
As he spoke, it gradually dawned on me that this was no trick. To these people, this was real, factual history. Abraham Lincoln was never elected as the first Republican President, the Civil War never happened, and the slaves were never freed.
The man with the white beard then met my gaze, a gentleness on his face. “I think it’s very kind of you to show charity to these people and to want to see the best in all men, but the Democrats were always the party of the civilized white man. It is the Republicans who wanted to ‘free’ Negroid animals, and later the red-haired white apes, making them equal to the civilized races and denying the Darwinian order. But true compassion on the lower races means that they are best serving the civilized white man, and the Democrat party is here to protect that natural order with love for both them and us.”
He then added, “As Darwin showed in his famous work, The Descent of Man, the races simply are not equal. And if I may add, were it not for the great empires of the White races, the lower races simply might not survive. Sadly, there are those who just want to deny the science in a misplaced crusade for their literal fundamentalism.”
A woman then said, “It’s really that the Republican Party is the party of hate. They hate the White man, and by trying to free the Negro, the Native Red man, and the Celtic chimps, along with the rest, they are really trying to make war against everyone, and really against nature itself.”
The knot in my stomach hardened.
“NO!” I tried to scream, but no sound came out.
The world faded, like an out-of-focus painting, and as I tried to reach out to grab hold of something-anything! I was filled with the sensation that I was on a train rushing away from reality.
My eyes grew and my head was spinning. What had I done?
I sensed something standing behind me.
I turned, afraid of what I would see.
The creature stood on the stage behind me, shaped like a man, but with long white hair, glowing white robes, and eyes that burned white, along with flesh that moved like liquid fire, if it could be called flesh. Patterns in his almost-skin swirled in shades of orange, red, and purple.
“What are you?” I asked, terrified. “Are you a demon!?”
“No.” He responded, “And do not speak the name of those creatures onto me again!” He added in a demanding voice that echoed like intense thunder.
“Then are you-”
He cut me off. “I am one who stands between the worlds, guarding the gates between one and the next.”
His words sank in.
“Are you going to kill me?” I asked.
He did not answer.
“Are you-” I began to ask.
“I was sent with the power to open your eyes. For far too long you’ve ignored that reality which you would rather not see. Many in your world have a saying that men like you cover up the Sun with their finger.”
He leaned closer. “You will cover it no longer.”
With that, he held out two hot glowing white orbs in his right hand, before wrapping his palm around my eyes so fast that I did not see him moving.
The heat spread through my skull like veins of molten copper, while I screamed louder than I’d ever heard anyone scream in my life.
Thank you for reading chapter 1 of “Broken Mirror!” I hope you had as much fun reading this as I had writing it. To see the full book, click the link below! To sign up for my Email newsletter through the homepage at GreenSlugg.com or through this link at ConvertKit.
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